FIAC, the longtime French fair that has been moribund since Art Basel ousted it from the Grand Palais to launch Paris+ this year, may be resurrected, according to fair director Florence Bourgeois. “FIAC has international strength because it has been around for 47 years,” Bourgeois told Artnet News. “We are mulling over different ways to bring it back to life.”
Unable to reveal more information at this time, Bourgeois indicated that if FIAC (an acronym for Foire internationale d’art contemporain) were to return, it would remain separate from Paris Photo, which took place at the Grand Palais Éphémère last week, and which Bourgeois also drives. . Both fairs are owned by the French branch of the international fair organizer RX (Reed Expositions).
“Each fair has its own identity,” Bourgeois said. “Paris Photo, which had 61,000 visitors this year, is truly a must for photography collectors, curators, museum directors and photography departments. So we have no reason to merge our brands.”
The demise of FIAC, and how management at the Grand Palais awarded its coveted space at the October fair to MCH Group, owner of Art Basel, rather than renew RX’s contract, has been the cause of consternation in the French press for months.
In the past week, le figaro reported that Paris Photo “is the only survivor among the RX group after the hostile takeover of Art Basel.” The French newspaper attributed the success of the Swiss fair in attracting collectors and museums from around the world to “its tentacular network of 35 VIP representatives”. However, he credited the 25th edition of Paris Photo, more than ever dedicated to a single medium, for his “resistance.”
Bourgeois, who expressed “sadness” when FIAC was toppled, spoke evenly about Paris+, which took place at the same venue as Paris Photo just a month earlier. “Paris Photo and Paris + are two strong moments that don’t cannibalize each other,” he said.
Both fairs will move from the temporary structure of the Grand Palais Éphémère on the Champ-de-Mars, near the Eiffel Tower, to the Grand Palais in 2024, once the Belle Époque building with its glass and steel vaulted nave has been built. . renovated.
Paris Photo also has other plans in the works for 2024. Having canceled what was to be the inaugural Paris Photo New York in spring 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Bourgeois still wants to open a fair in the Greater Apple. “It’s essential for us to find the right place and the right dates,” he said. “It will not be in 2023, but it will be in 2024, I hope.”
However, a spinoff in Los Angeles, where Paris Photo held fairs in 2013, 2014 and 2015, does not seem likely to return. “We think New York is more important in terms of collectors and galleries,” Bourgeois said. “Although there are more and more galleries, museums and photo collectors in Los Angeles, I think there is a broader diversity of the market in New York.”
As for his vision for Paris Photo, Bourgeois is pleased to see artists increasingly create unique works in the medium and innovate historical techniques. “What is interesting is how we are evolving towards a unique treatment of photographs and a return to older techniques, such as cyanotype,” Bourgeois said.
“There are many artists who use the [photographic] medium as a base and manipulate it by sewing or using a pen,” added Bourgeois. He cited as examples Cuban artist Jorge Alberto Cadi, who reworks found vernacular photographs, shown at this year’s Paris Photo by local gallery Christian Berst Art Brut, and Dutch artist Sebastiaan Bremer, who uses a pointillist technique in appropriated images, brought by New York dealer. Edwyn Houk.
What other discoveries did Bourgeois make in the last edition of the fair? “I really liked the stands of the Eastern European galleries, especially Einspach from Hungary, which presented a solo exhibition on Orshi Drozdik,” he said. “Also Jezca from Rumania, who put the work of Mircea Cantor in dialogue with [Constantin Flondor and Doru Tulcan from] Sigma Group and Miklós Erdély, key figures of the experimental avant-garde of the 60s and 70s.”
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